National Park Service Puts $3.4 Million Into Preserving and Interpreting World War II Japanese American Confinement Sites

by Jon D. B.
national-park-service-puts-3-4-million-into-preserving-and-interpreting-world-war-ii-japanese-american-confinement-sites

“The National Park Service is committed to telling a more complete story of the impacts and injustices of the Japanese American experience during World War II.”

On Tuesday, the National Park Service (NPS) announced awarding over $3 million in grants to Japanese American Confinement Sites. The $3,405,000 funding will support 19 preservation, restoration, and education projects in total. Each will help better tell the story of the over 120,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated by the U.S. government following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Two-thirds of those incarcerated were U.S. citizens when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19 of 1942.

“The National Park Service is committed to telling a more complete story of the impacts and injustices of the Japanese American experience during World War II through the preservation and interpretation of incarceration sites and memorials across the country,” offers NPS Director Chuck Sams during the announcement. In addition, Sams hopes resulting partnerships with community groups will strengthen the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program.

National Park Service Director Chuck Sams: ‘As Americans, we need to better understand our shared history and learn about these hard truths’

“As Americans, we need to better understand our shared history and learn about these hard truths,” Sams continues. By doing so, “We can make a better future for ourselves and generations to come,” he says.

national-park-service-puts-3-4-million-into-preserving-and-interpreting-world-war-ii-japanese-american-confinement-sites
Northwest Film Forum and Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages will use one of this years’ grants to organize a pilgrimage to the Jerome and Rohwer sites in AR, commemorating the 80 years since the incarceration, similar to the 2018 pilgrimage seen here. (Image courtesy NPS, Kimiko Marr)

Furthermore, “These grants will help tell these difficult histories with accuracy and authenticity,” Sams says.

As for the program, Japanese American Confinement Sites grants awards to projects associated with the 10 War Relocation Authority centers established in 1942. More than 40 additional confinement sites also apply. The mission, as NPS states, is to “teach future generations about the injustices of the World War II confinement of Japanese Americans, preserve sites and stories associated with this history, and inspire a commitment to equal justice under the law.”

This year, hopeful projects sent proposals to NPS through a competitive process. This required applicants to match the grant award with $1 in non-federal funds or “in-kind” contributions for every $2 they receive in federal money.

Examples of projects funded this year include:

  • Curricula and teacher training. Tides Center’s National Veterans Network, based in California, will host a teacher training institute to instruct teachers. Curricula will teach elementary and middle school students about the history of Japanese American World War II incarceration. The Nisei soldiers who volunteered for military service while their families remained incarcerated behind barbed wire will also feature.
  • Preservation of a historic building. California-based Poston Community Alliance will continue their efforts to restore the Poston Elementary School site library historic structure. Located on the Colorado River Indian Tribes Reservation in Arizona, the historic structure is in dire need of stabilization.
  • Community Pilgrimage. Seattle-based Northwest Film Forum will partner with Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages to organize a three day event commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Jerome and Rohwer incarceration sites in Arkansas. Activities will include workshops on how to preserve oral histories. In addition, artifacts that tell the history of Japanese American incarceration during World War II will also feature.

These projects, despite being long overdue, are but the tip of the iceberg. Much more is to come from NPS’ funding. Find the full selection of 19 projects to receive funds in 2022 in the National Park Service’s list here.

For more details about these projects and the history behind them, visit NPS’ JACS page here. Well done, NPS.

Outsider.com